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The human heart is one of the most overworked organs in the body. The heart beats over 100,000 times a day and tends to become weak under strain. An underlying ailment causes the heart to work harder to pump blood in the body. This causes the heart muscles to thicken and develop an enlarged heart valve that helps it pump the required amount of blood into the body. There are different heart diseases that lead to this medical condition. We shall study more about the details of this condition in the following paragraphs.

What is an Enlarged Heart Valve
It is not a disease or an ailment, but a symptom of other heart conditions. Enlarged heart is known as cardiomegaly and it develops due to temporary stress on the body. These temporary stress conditions include weakened heart muscles, abnormal heart rhythms or pregnancy. There are four types of problems that are as follows:
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD) (very rare type of enlarged heart)
Causes
There are many conditions that cause the heart to pump more blood than usual. This damages the heart muscles leading to an enlarged heart. Some of these conditions that lead to this heart disease are as follows:
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart valve disease
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Congenital heart defects like Ebstein's anomaly or tricuspid atresia
  • Arrhythmia
  • Anemia
  • Endocarditis
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Medications like fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine
  • Mitral valve prolapse (MVP)
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Pericarditis
  • Myocarditis
These conditions lead to an enlarged valve in the heart due to damage done to cardiac cells. Also, in some cases, heart becomes enlarged for no apparent reason and is termed as 'idiopathic enlarged heart'.

Symptoms
In many cases, patients show no symptoms at all. Those who show signs of heart valve enlargement complain of:
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling or edema
  • Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)
  • Persistent cough
  • Lightheadedness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fainting spells
Treatment
When one is diagnosed with heart enlargement, the doctor will suggest some treatments that help treat the condition. Most of the time, the treatment depends on the underlying heart condition that leads to heart enlargement. The doctor may suggest you with diuretics that help reduce the sodium and water in the body. This is very good for reducing the pressure on the arteries and preventing further scarring of the heart tissue. Blood pressure is reduced by prescribing angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Those who are not able to take ACE inhibitors are given angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). Other medications like anticoagulants lower the risk of blood clots while digoxin and beta blockers ameliorate the heart function.

When medications fail to deliver the desired effect, other procedures and surgeries may be required. In case of dilated cardiomyopathy, the patient may be fitted with a pacemaker. Those suffering from serious arrhythmia are fitted with implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) device. If one develops heart valve enlargement problems, then he/she is advised to undergo a heart valve surgery. The valve is surgically repaired or replaced, if one suffers from valve regurgitation (back flow of blood). A coronary bypass surgery helps in case of coronary heart disease. And finally, heart transplantation is the only option left when all other treatments fail, in case of critically ill patients.

As you can see, it is a symptom and not a condition in itself. If one suffers from heart enlargement, the doctor will try to treat the underlying condition. For more detailed information, speak to your doctor and clear your doubts, if any.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and does not in any way attempt to replace the diagnosis of a doctor. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.